The Philadelphia Water Department Announced that the Schuylkill River Trail at the Flat Rock Dam will be closed from September 11th at least until the end of 2023 for the Flat Rock Dam Betterment Project. During this time, you will notice closure signs on both ends of the obstructed portion: one at the Shawmont Station at Shawmont Ave. and Nixon St., and one just below Leverington Ave. on the Manayunk Towpath. As there is no access to the street network from the Dam trail users will have to turn around.
The suggested detour, Umbria St is the preferred route for experienced road cyclists avoiding the gravel path but it is not for everyone. The street has standard bike lanes and a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit, but the suburban arterial design of the road encourages speeding. There are also no sidewalks west of Domino Lane. Last year we asked the Streets Department and oTIS to add flex posts to the bike lanes on Umbria after the road resurfacing but that proposal was rejected due to the overgrowth of vegetation in the bike lane. Umbria St. is about 150 feet above the river so there is a stiff climb from the trail. We suggest that anyone uncomfortable walking or biking on high-stress roads bypass the detour area by using the SEPTA Manayunk Norristown Line or the Route 9 bus (SEPTA Bike and Ride page).
On the plus side, Umbria St. has better access to the Manayunk Bridge and the Cynwyd Heritage Trail and offers an opportunity to explore historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery and the Iron Works of Pencoyd Landing. While you cannot avoid the elevation change you can at least bypass the gridlock and parked cars on Main St. Manayunk. For people on foot the Fountain Street Steps are worth exploring and take you directly from the Canal Towpath to Umbria St.